As temperatures rise and days lengthen your fitness clients may start to head outdoors to boost their mood and fitness routines. Why not take advantage of the Spring and Summer in-studio exodus and meet your customers where they want to be with fresh, fun outdoor fitness classes.
Not only can fitness business owners mitigate the seasonal loss of customers by setting up outdoor exercise classes, but you can also boost the visibility of your studio, build a strong sense of community by offering a casual way for customers to socialize outside the regular classroom, and add variety to your group fitness class program.
Outdoor fitness classes bring a lot of fun in the sun, but they come with their own set of challenges.
Here are some ways to go smart when planning outdoor bootcamp classes, along with the latest in outdoor fitness class ideas to inspire you to head outside!
When selecting a location for your outdoor fitness bootcamp or fitness class, scout out local parks and beaches that have ample room, plenty of shade and, ideally access to public facilities like bathrooms and water fountains.
Consider the time of day you will be hosting your class and visit your prospective location at that hour.
This part is HUGE.
It may seem like a great idea to bask in the first warm days of sun, but when your students are half-way through a HIIT workout with no shade in sight at high noon, you may find that it’s too much.
Additionally, by scoping out a prospective location ahead of time, you can look for potential problems you might run into.
If you will be conducting your outdoor fitness classes in full sun, it’s best to plan the timing for early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun’s rays and heat of the day have dissipated.
Also, it’s critical to find out what your city’s regulations are on hosting group events on public property. Many municipalities require a permit and have specific areas of parks where group gatherings are allowed (on the North side of the park but not the South, for example).
Be sure to find out if there are any noise regulations and take a decibel meter to test your sound system ahead of time if you plan on using amplification for your voice and/or music.
Speaking of amps, when selecting the site for your outdoor fitness bootcamp consider how many participants you plan on having and whether you will be heard by all of them.
This hiccup is something we've found a lot of instructors tend to forget. Outdoor acoustics are much less forgiving than a studio space.
If you’re working with 6-8 bootcamp students, it’s probably fine to not use equipment. But if you plan to teach an outdoor group fitness class to 20, 30, 50 or more, it’s worth considering using a microphone and speaker(s).
Consider setting up a check in table and using branded flags and banners to make your outdoor fitness class site easy to find – and to maximize brand exposure. Who knows, you may get new students from curious passersby.
If your outdoor fitness class is ongoing, have fliers, postcards, a QR code or website URL displayed so that people can conveniently access your schedule, plan ahead for future classes and register.
Remember to bring extra sunscreen and bug spray! Offer a water station if possible.
When planning your outdoor group fitness class ideas it’s important to consider what props or equipment your workout will require.
Try to keep extra equipment to a minimum so that you and/or your customers don’t have to lug a bunch of stuff to the park or beach. Think lightweight and impactful.
For example, can you use exercise bands instead of weights or incorporate more body-weight driven exercises like burpees, squats, lunges and push-ups.
Carefully consider the terrain at your location.
Are there stairs you can use?
... a playground?
Use what’s there so you don’t have to bring the gym to the park.
Be sure to remind your outdoor bootcamp participants to bring water bottles and towels.
You’ve got your outdoor group fitness class location scoped out and all the permissions in place to launch your Summer program. Now, you’re ready to create a killer combo of body-toning, heart-pumping moves that will wow your customers and create a buzz-worthy bootcamp.
Here are some fresh ideas for creating your best outdoor group fitness class.
Pyramid training is a group of sets, of identical exercises, that begin with the lightweight and higher reps, escalating to a heavier weight and fewer reps. A full pyramid training is the extended version of this, decreasing the weight after you have reached the peak until you complete the pyramid.
Here’s an example – remember to always include a warm up and cool down period:
Having a buddy keeps motivation high, builds community and gives your students support during their outdoor group exercise class.
This circuit uses body weight to tone and strengthen.
Get those heart rates up with this cardio circuit made for the outdoors:
This fun fitness game is designed to infuse your outdoor group fitness classes with fun and help participants de-stress.
Map out your route (it could be a path you typically use for jogging or walking), and then list five to 10 bodyweight exercises (push-ups, burpees, squat jumps, etc). Next to each move, write down a landmark you'll see along your path (park bench, red light, dog on a leash, or even a black convertible).
To start your scavenger hunt, head out on your route and every time you see one of your outdoor workout landmarks, do 10 reps of the corresponding move. For example, if you listed "park bench" next to push-ups, hit the bench for a set of 10 incline or decline push-ups every time you see one. It's a fun way to mix up your outdoor workout routine and add an element of play (and still keep plenty of sweat) to your typical route.
Here are some ways you can use park playgrounds to create new group outdoor fitness class moves. Use steps, benches, bars and walls. If there’s a basketball court or soccer field, use the playing field to create goal line to goal line challenges.
This workout is inspired by the ‘buy in’ concept used in CrossFit programs. Here’s how to set it up:
To get started, sort a deck of playing cards into five piles. Put all of the face cards and jokers in the first pile. Each of the remaining for piles should contain the Ace through 10 of just one suit. Repeat with another deck if you predict more then 16 campers at your session. Make sure when you put the cards away you can easily sort them into these five piles again at the workout.
After a 10 minute warm up, split the group into teams of three or four of similar fitness. Assign a team as advanced, intermediate or beginner. This workout is kind of like any gambling card game. There is a buy in round in which clients need to do a set of exercises in order ‘buy in’ and be able to draw a card.
Each team is given their own set of 10 cards – ace through 10 of one suit. The cards are shuffled so that when a team picks a card they get a random number between one and ten.
They should then complete the corresponding exercise to that card. Used cards should be put into a discard pile. Teams will then need to ‘buy in’ again to pick another card. The workout is complete once all ten cards have been completed or the time is up. Write the exercises up on a whiteboard.
The Buy In
To be completed together by the whole team:
In brackets following the drill is (advanced, intermediate, beginner) levels. If there is just one option, all levels complete that option.
Tabata is nothing new. In fact HIIT was spawned from Tabata, a training method originally designed for Olympic speed skaters. Highly intense, short bursts followed by equally as short rest periods. The goal is totally exhaust yourself. Note that Tabata is not beginner friendly so offer this to your more intermediate and advanced practitioners who are looking to take it to the next level.
A truly body-changing Tabata workout will incorporate plyometric movements like burpees, jump squats and lunges, and mountain climbers, along with body-toning moves like push-ups, crunches, and tricep dips. You can use gym equipment, weights, and any accessories you want. Or just grab a jump rope for a mistake-proof Tabata workout.
There are many small group workout ideas that lend themselves to outdoor exercise classes. Here’s one that’s challenging and fun:
Goal: Strategy and balancing of team-member contributions
Set-up: Create teams of four and set up four to six stations, with each station consisting of four exercises. Stations could focus on upper body, lower body, core, cardio, jumping, etc. Here are examples of upper- and lower-body stations:
Station 1: Upper Body
Station 2: Lower Body
Execution: Each team member must perform 20 repetitions of each exercise (for a total of 80 repetitions of each exercise). This leaves 20 reps of each exercise remaining. Team members must decide how the remaining repetitions will be distributed and completed. Exercises do not need to be distributed equally.
Here is an example of how a cardio-focused workout might work:
Exercises: Jumping Jacks, High Knees, Speed Skaters, Butt Kickers
Team member 1: Completes 20 reps of each of the above exercises
Team member 2: Same
Team member 3: Same
Team member 4: Same
This leaves 20 reps of each of the four exercises, which could be distributed among the four team members as follows (this is just one of many possibilities):
Team member 1: Completes the last 20 jumping jacks
Team member 2: Completes the last 20 high knees
Team member 3: Completes the last 20 speed skaters
Team member 4: Completes the last 20 butt kickers
If there are only three team members, the total reps for each exercise would be 80.
With any of these outdoor fitness class ideas remember to carefully plan your time, find some shade, take time for water breaks and most of all have fun in the sun!